Mercedes-Benz Deep Dive: What’s Coming 2019–2023
Mercedes plans to offer 130 electrified models by 2030, which means lots more EVs, plug-in hybrids, and traditional hybrids are on the way. The budget for this mammoth effort is in the area of €35 billion ($ 39.7 billion), which includes a €25 billion ($ 28.4 billion) investment in battery technology. Let’s take a year-by-year look at how this aggressive game plan will likely affect the short- to mid-term product portfolio.
Coming this year are the facelifted GLC-class compact SUV, the brand-new GLS-class full-size SUV, two versions of the A45 AMG (388 horsepower for the base car, and a rather frivolous 422 horses in the S model), and the CLA-class shooting brake. Also on the horizon are the chunky GLB-class small SUV, which will be available with seven seats, a new GLE that will include a plug-in sporting 60 miles of range, and the all-electric EQC loosely based on the GLC. There has been talk about a GLA coupe, but this proposal is dead—as is the tentative SUS, an oddball sedan/SUV hybrid that didn’t make it far out of the discussion stage. When Dieter Zetsche steps down in May to make room for Ola Källenius, Markus Schäfer will reportedly become the new R&D chief. This year is only the beginning of a very busy period in Stuttgart, however.
Mercedes will start 2020 by launching the next-generation GLE coupe. Also due in spring is the facelifted E-class, which gets the latest edition of MBUX together with numerous styling changes and a broader hybrid portfolio. Additional debuts include the AMG GT four-door plug-in variant with an electric range of 60 miles, the tarted-up Maybach edition of the full-size GLS, and the second-generation GLA-class compact crossover, which takes on more of a traditional SUV form factor and is a lot more spacious.
On the exclusively electric side of things, the five-door compact EQA (rendered above) will appear by summer. Good for a zero-emission range of up to 250 miles, the stylish EQA and the bigger, taller, and more purposeful EQB will be offered with three different battery sizes from 60 to 110 kWh and with electric motors in 150-kW (201-hp), 200-kW (268 hp), and 250-kW (335-hp) strengths. While the EQA will likely be priced around €35,000 (and roughly the same number in USD), the EQB is expected to arrive with a €50K price tag. Like the EQC crossover, the EQA and EQB are based on the EVA1 framework, which uses elements of the GLC platform. More sophisticated bespoke EQ versions for which Mercedes has already obtained trademarks are EQE (a full-size model in both sedan and CUV flavors), EQS (the electric analog to the S-class), and EQG (full-size SUV).
The Next S-Class Also Arrives in 2020
The biggest splash the three-pointed star has planned for 2020 is of course the next S-class, which gets a fully digital cockpit, high-tech seats, more aggressive rear-wheel steering designed for much improved maneuverability, and a remarkably pretty and aerodynamically efficient body with concealed door handles. In terms of body styles, the next S will come in standard- and long-wheelbase forms, as well as Pullman, but unfortunately will not offer the strikingly beautiful four-door coupe model that was under consideration. That one would have sat on the longer wheelbase. The ostentatious Maybach sedan range will transfer to the new platform a few years later, in 2023. Launched in 2014 and 2016, the S-class coupe and convertible will soldier on way into the next decade, but due to a lack of demand they will not be replaced.
SL and AMG GT
One of the most interesting new 2020 arrivals should be the eighth-generation SL-class, which will be mechanically paired with the second-generation AMG GT coupe and roadster. (The smaller SLC has been confirmed as dead.) The 2+2 SL and two-seat AMG GT share a new aluminum architecture that is light and stiff enough to allow both roadsters to feature canvas roofs. The price paid for this synergy, though, is the departure of the coveted rear-transaxle layout used on the current version of the AMG GT (shown above). On the bright side, mating engine and transmission makes room for the fitment of 4Matic all-wheel drive. Electrification plays a big role in the gestation of the two sports cars, with the development being handled by AMG. While a plug-in-hybrid powertrain model will provide an all-electric range of 30 miles, the EQ boost technology reserved for the top-of-the-line AMG GT boasts a 250-kW (335-hp) electric power pack that straddles the differential. According to the Affalterbach grapevine, the batteries and electric hardware will provide almost exactly the same weight distribution as the transaxle layout. While the AMG keeps its trademark V-8, the remaining models make do with Mercedes’ latest straight-six (plus electrification) and the turbocharged four-cylinder.
2021 and Beyond: New C- and E-classes, Plus the Spectacular EQS
Early in 2021, Mercedes will unleash the new C-class, first as a sedan and then later in the year as station wagon. The coupe and convertible will return, as well, but there will be no additions to the range like the proposed shooting-brake-style CLT. Mild hybrid powertrains are standard and the plug-ins will sport emissions-free ranges of up to 60 miles, but the V-8 will reportedly be phased out in AMG models. Based on the modular MRA rear-wheel-drive architecture, the future C-class may well be the last of its kind. Why? Because Mercedes has already kicked off the first of two convergence programs designed to eventually fuse its internal-combustion, fully electric, and plug-in-hybrid vehicle lines into one lineup that will span from A-class to S-class on the car side and from the GLA-class to the GLS-class on the SUV side.
For now, at the upper end of the size and price range, bespoke models riding on the EVA2 electric-vehicle platform will include the grandiose EQS (an artist’s rendering of which is shown at the top of this post)—an S-class like no other, it must hardly be said—the more affordable EQE (sedan only, shown above in an artist’s rendering), and the aforementioned EQG which will be offered in both more rugged SUV and less aggressive crossover body styles. The EQE and EQG are set to arrive in 2022 together with the facelifted A-class and the entirely conventional GLC replacement.
Due in March 2023, the next E-class will once again be able to be spec’d as either a no-frills commuter car or as a downsized all-in pseudo S-class. Sadly, Mercedes does not plan to replace the E coupe and cabrio, which is another way of saying that of you want a two-door Mercedes, the next C-class will eventually be your only option. The fates of the bigger E- and S-class models were sealed by lookalike, cookie-cutter design and disappointing packaging. The soft-top E-class, for example, offers notably more passenger and luggage space than the pricier S-class.
Although the EVA2 electric platform is structurally sound enough to go topless, an open-air EV model is featured exactly nowhere in the product plan. One potential problem for Mercedes is the absence of a Tesla Model 3 fighter. The EQE is too big and too expensive, all EVA1 derivatives are compromised crossovers or SUVs, and before the new convergence platform is ready for production, Tesla may well have released its second-generation lineup.